6/30: last tour, last listen (for now)

Since Chris returns today, my watering duties come to an end (though I've gotten a little fond of it so may take over from time to time). I finally got so used to the watering system, that I didn't need Chris' diagram to help me remember this or that tree. I did a last round of watering this morning, and, in a happy circumstance, as I finished watering I also finished listening to The Last Chronicle of Barset on my iPod.

Okay, my uses of "last" feel a bit ominous. There is something pleasing about my time without Chris (symbolized by the watering) drawing to a close at the same time that my long listen to Trollope's novel ended. But there's also a pleasure in knowing that these "lasts" are not entirely final. I can water the trees whenever I choose, and I'm sure I'll revisit Barsetshire many more times in Trollope's pages.

6/29: getting ready

Chris comes home tomorrow. I'm so glad he had a chance to go on his trip, but I'll also be happy for him to be back again. Today I've been tidying up in anticipation. Farewell to my temporary bachelor lifestyle!

6/27: another abstract

In March I had an abstract accepted for presentation at the Children's Literature Association annual conference this June. It turned out that I couldn't attend: because our dear cat Wilkie now needs regular medication and attention several times a day, Chris and I didn't want to be out of town simultaneously, and the conference was scheduled during his stay in Portugal. Although I was a little disappointed in a vague way not to be going to the conference, I'm not at all regretful about my decision--it definitely was the right thing to hold down the fort with Wilkie and Emma.

There are some silver linings. The theme for next year's Children's Literature Association conference is an even better fit for me, so I'll apply for that when the time comes. And since I didn't have to write a paper in May, I worked on an abstract for another conference this fall, which again is a better fit for me. I found out today that it was accepted, and that was sweet news. I re-read my abstract this afternoon, and I really like it (if that's not too immodest to admit). I'm glad I'll have a chance to develop the abstract into a full-fledged paper.

6/26: countdown to a milestone

I've been at this blog for quite some time now (as today's sweet visitor in the comments noted). In fact, I'm closing in on my 1,000th entry. If I've totted up correctly, today's entry is number 950. This blog has been a good thing, and a good habit. Many thanks to everyone who stops by, has ever stopped by, will ever stop by.

6/25: into the lake

It's hot, and as a reward for working steadily this afternoon, I took my kayak out this evening. I dropped anchor and slipped overboard to swim. After I had finished, had climbed back into the boat (not gracefully), and paddled back, I realized that I wanted to swim some more, so I jumped off the dock and enjoyed the water just a little bit longer.

And it's always a good thing to come to my blog and see that someone has already left a good thing from their day. Today I found a comment from my friend, Sandy--thanks for stopping by!

6/24: hard won, but won

I'm working on a website for a research project, and I'm using a Wordpress platform for it. I needed to customize a template in a particular way today, and since there's so much documentation online, I found advice for what I needed pretty easily. But the advice wouldn't work, and wouldn't work, and wouldn't work. Then I figured something else out, and finally--it worked. I probably spent about 3 hours just on this problem, and I am so so so so so so glad that I can claim a victory before closing up shop for the day.

6/23: time with a page

I saw the animated film The Secret of Kells a few months ago, and I really enjoyed it--it is visually amazing. Though it's a very fictional view of The Book of Kells, the movie made me want to incorporate The Book of Kells somehow in my Vulgate class this fall. Today I spent time with a high-quality photograph of single page and worked through its Latin. I had a good time, and I think my students will have a good time with it, too.

6/22: turning pages with delight

As I'm reading E. M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread.

6/21: solstice sunset

I was driving this evening at sunset, and the sky was wonderful. I couldn't pull over to get a good photo of it, so I'll just have to remember it and be glad that it was.

6/20: inside, outside, and at school

Inside: doing some weight lifting, which I haven't done in quite some time (too long!).

Outside: enjoying watering the trees while listening to Trollope.

At school: tidying up my office just a little, which I didn't do at the end of the semester.

6/19: all ordered

I'm helping to run two different summer-reading programs at school: students have their books sent to them at their home addresses to read over the summer, and then small groups convene for discussion once school is back in session. Over the past few weeks I've made arrangements for about 80 books to be sent to different people; today I placed the last set of orders. I love promoting leisure reading and discussion about leisure reading--but I'm also glad that the sign-up and procurement stages are over. Now that the preliminaries are dispensed with, all everyone has to do is read!

6/18: generosity

The kindness of a friend, who listened to me talk (at much length!!) through some thoughts and feelings. She was so perceptive and warm and funny and loving--and generous with her time.

6/17: sharing a meteor

Chris is in Portugal, and he called me this evening as he was sitting on the roof of his house there. As we talked, he paused suddenly. He explained: it was a shooting star. I didn't get to see it, but I still got to experience it with him in a way.

6/16: index card Zen space

I'm doing the Index Card A Day challenge at Daisy Yellow. Today's card is inspired by Zen gardens. My sister first showed me the iZen Garden app for the iPhone, and I really enjoy it--I'm even thinking of constructing a real Zen garden here at home. The index-card Zen garden I doodled today is lower-tech than an app and more portable than one of real stones.

6/15: holding steady & jumping high

Our cat Wilkie is having some health challenges, and I took him to the vet today for a check-in. The doctor says that although some things can't be decisively cured, Wilkie's doing well and his conditions are, it seems, being managed successfully for now.

Our other cat Emma feels perhaps a little neglected while Wilkie is getting so much medical attention. Today I made a new string toy for us to play with. It's not elaborate: just a piece of string tied onto a long dowel. I hold the dowel and move the string around, and Emma jumps to catch it. He was glad for the fun.

6/14: blue box bonding

I am fond of the US Postal Service's blue mailboxes. They used to be fairly well sprinkled through cities, but the USPS has been removing them over the past few years. My favorite one (which gave me an excuse to walk across campus each morning) was taken away last year. I recently discovered a new one outside a bank which my errands sometimes take me near, so I've started using it when it's convenient. Today as I was turning away from the box, having just deposited my mail, another woman came up with hers. She had popped off her bike for a second to drop it off; she planned this stop on her route, too. We smiled at each other.

6/13: a few sweet things

Watering the trees with Chris' system today.

Having someone compliment my honey-colored Converse hi-tops.

Dropping off some books for students' summer reading projects, and getting emails from each of the students to let me know that they came by and picked up their books within just a few hours of my letting them know they were there. (Yay for eager readers!)

Seeing a great blue heron and a white heron while I was kayaking. I saw them both twice--once as I was paddling out of our cove, and again as I was heading back in.

Watching sparkling balls of water move around on top of the lily pads as I kayaked by them.

6/12: proboscises protracted

The bees have taken over the bird-bath. They line up at the water's edge for a drink.

Though it's not great that the bees have claimed the bird-bath as their own turf, it is a good thing that they're readily getting water during this stretch of dry, hot days. I think the birds have moved over to a neighbor's yard, so luckily they didn't have far to go to find new, bee-less relief.

6/11: eating scones

With Chris at the airport. He's off to Portugal. I was grateful for an unexpected bit of time together before he went to his gate.

6/10: a collection of good things

Paging through The Horn Book Guide over breakfast and identifying books I'd like to read or at least look at further.

Learning that plummet and pumpkin are diminutives. I like diminutives, words that have a suffix meaning "little" in them. Plummet means "little piece of lead" (it was a noun before it became a verb), and a pumpkin is "a little melon." I keep meaning to start a list of all the diminutives I come across: words like sonnet, canticle, muscle, gazette, gosling....

Getting an orientation to Chris' new system of hoses for watering the trees around the property. We have a dedicated well for watering plants--it's not drinkable water, but it does a good job of keeping the trees going during the summer months.

Realizing that the swarm of bees which we brought home at the beginning of the month has truly taken up residence. There's always a chance that a swarm will decide to move on, but these bees have decided to stay put. They're building comb in their hive boxes, and we're giving them sugar water as extra fuel (since they have no honey stores).

Receiving an email from my brother about the Abstract Comics anthology that I've been enthusiastic about. I mentioned it to him on the phone recently, and he thinks it's pretty great, too.

6/9: preliminaries done

All the preparations for this month's research project are over, thanks to the unexpected (and very welcome) external help provided by my trip to DC. Things are now underway, and that's an exciting feeling. I'm looking forward to sinking into work over the next few weeks.

6/8: strangely compelling

We've been watching the Canadian TV series called Trailer Park Boys through Netflix. It's well done in many ways (and the scenario is admittedly off-beat). We're hooked. Are we fans, or addicts?

6/7: giving myself a margin

Before I left for my trip, I did a tentative plan for this week's work. I knew that I'd be getting home late on Monday night, so I--very sanely--didn't put a lot on my list for today. Over Sunday and Monday I was travelling more than than not, and all the motion tired me out, even though for most of the travel-time I was sitting and reading. I was grateful that I had a modest slate of things to do today, and it feels good to end the day knowing that I did all of them.

6/5-6/6: checking things out

A colleague recently suggested that a Classics foundation in DC might be able to help me with one of my research projects. They're flying me up there for a meeting on Monday, and we'll see if things develop in a mutually happy way. In any case, I'm glad for the chance to explore an unexpected option while Chris holds down the fort (i.e., keeps the cats company).

6/4: no longer a hurdle

I used to dislike packing for trips, and as a result I'd take a long time doing it. But for the past few trips I've taken, packing hasn't been so bad. It's nice for something that used to be a kind of fraught experience to have become unfraught. I'm all packed up for a quick business trip I'm going on tomorrow.

6/3: readers

As everyday life gets seemingly more & more complicated, more & more full-to-bursting, more & more fragmented, more & more distracting, I'm glad that people continue to read books. I know reading isn't the magic antidote to the whirlwind of the world, but it does seem to offset the roar of the whirlwind just a bit. Today I had some nice contact with fellow readers: a friend wrote to thank me for the children's books that I sent to her to share with her baby; a student wrote to thank me for a book recommendation; and a bunch of new students emailed me to sign up for some voluntary book groups which Chris and I run at our school. I'm grateful to cross paths with such enthusiastic readers, who also want to share their excitement about reading.

6/2: so tender

I'm still listening to The Last Chronicle of Barset on my iPod as I walk. It's a long book, so I've been listening to it for months, but I don't mind because I love it very much. Since I've read the book a number of times, there's an extra pleasure as I listen in being able to remember that this-or-that detail is just about to come up. Tonight I reached a wonderful chapter about the aging Septimus Harding; Trollope presents it all so beautifully and carefully.

6/1: bee adventure

Chris is on a county list of people to call if you a bee swarm has landed at your house. Yesterday a woman called because some bees had taken up residence in a sort of cabinet on her porch. We drove to her place (a beautiful spot by the river) and spent two hours collecting the bees. Now they're in a hive-box here, and we'll see if they decide to stay put.